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  • image M76

Foliate 'palm-leaf' capital of an engaged column

Ptolemaic, probably c.150 BC

Limestone or marble

Height: 61cm, maximum
Width: 58cm

Museum number: M76

Vermeule catalogue number: Vermeule 35help-vermeule-catalogue-number

Curatorial note

The right three-quarters of a semi-circular palm-leaf capital of an engaged column, enriched with stylized, bunched water reeds with flat palm leaves behind.

In a Ptolemaic style, popular in Egypt about 150 BC. On account of its Roman provenance, this capital is probably from one of the Temples to the Egyptian divinities in the Campus Martius and neighbouring areas - buildings which were executed in a Graeco-Roman Egyptian style. There are parallels in the Michaelangelo Cloister of the Terme and the Antiquario Communale - the former being an example, like this, possibly recut for use as a flower pot in post-antique times.

This particular capital, with the broken left side restored in the drawing, is illustrated by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) with six other architectural fragments of varied sorts as 'giacente vicino all' arco de' Pantina' (Wilton-Ely No. 274). It probably passed either directly or through the medium of Piranesi's circle from the owner of the land to the Scottish architect Robert Adam, who like his fellow architect Henry Holland (for whom many of the antiquities now in Sir John Soane's Museum were collected in the 1790s) knew the value of antique fragments and casts for study.

Provenance help-art-provenance

Purchased by John Soane at the Robert Adam Sale (Christie's) 22 May 1818, Lot. 92 Part of a capital in Egyptian taste, very curious £2.2.0


A. A. Tait, Robert Adam, The Creative Mind: from the sketch to the finished drawing, exhibition catalogue, (London, 1996), cat no. 69.

Exhibition history

Robert Adam, The Creative Mind: from the Sketch to the Finished Drawing, Sir John Soane's Museum, 4 October 1996 - 1 March 1997; The Frick Collection, New York, December 1997 - April 1998; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, May - June 1998; The Octagon Museum, Washington, July 1998 - January 1999; Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, February - March 1999

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk